The following overview has been prepared by Michael Harrison.
One of the most significant heritage resources in the Mimico 20/20 revitalization area is the Ormsby/Franceschini Estate, now the Amedeo Garden Court apartment complex.
The existing heritage elements of the Ormsby/Franceschini Estate were listed under the Ontario Heritage Act in 2006.
On April 1, 2011 the Toronto Preservation Panel adopted a report from Heritage Preservation Services recommending designation of all existing heritage elements of the Ormsby/Franceschini Estate under the Ontario Heritage Act.
On April 21, 2011, the recommendation was considered by the Etobicoke-York Community Council and referred to the Toronto Planning Department to be considered as part of the Mimico 20/20 Revitalization Initiative.
At the same time, the Longo Corporation submitted an application to redevelop the Ormsby/Franceschini Estate (Amedeo Garden Court apartment complex).
The preliminary report prepared by Toronto Planning staff notes that review of the application will include “devising an appropriate approach to the site’s identified heritage features” (though none of the features appear on the site plan they submitted with the application).
In their application for development of the Amadeo Garden Court site, it’s my understanding that the Longo Development Corporation application does not show any heritage buildings at all and has taken what is in the historic gardens and moved them to the lake between two towers.
In the preliminary report to the Etobicoke York Community Council, City of Toronto planning staff have noted a number of issues that will need to be dealt with including heritage issues.
Toronto Official Plan
The Toronto Official Plan indicates (pp. 1-4) that “heritage buildings and features are conserved.”
The main policies are contained in section 3.1.5 – Heritage Resources (pp. 3-10).
The lead-in statement says, “Our heritage buildings, districts and landscapes create a unique sense of place and a rooted sense of local identity and continuity for Torontonians.”
Policy #2 under this section states that “Heritage resources on properties listed on the City’s Inventory of Heritage Properties will be conserved” (pp. 3-10).
Position on preservation of the Ormsby/Franceschini Estate
According to heritage planning principles the first position is to save all the heritage buildings and landscaping features on site in their current locations.
Moving buildings or structures destroys their context and hence their story and historical significance.
The buildings and landscaping elements (garden/stone walls along Lake Shore Blvd West) together are more than the sum of their parts.
They should be preserved in their entirely and integrated into the redevelopment of the site. Any discussion of tradeoffs (i.e., this building is more important than that building, etc.) should only be judged by the heritage planning professionals in the City of Toronto planning department.
To suggest otherwise undercuts their position which is that all the heritage buildings and landscaping elements are worthy of designation under the Ontario Heritage Act and therefore should be protected and preserved as part of the redevelopment of the site.
We need to support what the heritage planning professionals in the city have to say.
There may come a time when these type of decisions need to be made but it is very important that the heritage planning staff make that call and be supported by the community and those interested in the heritage of the property.
Speaking with one voice will be the strongest position.
Any questions related to tradeoffs should be referred to the heritage planning professionals that the city has to advise them.
Mimico Built Heritage Resources Study
In the late fall of 2011, the city of Toronto retained a heritage consultant to undertake a built heritage resources study as part of the Mimico 20/20 process.
According to the Scope of Work document, the goal of the study is to “provide inventory data and recommendations for further detailed work to ensure the protection of all individually significant and collective Cultural Heritage Resources (CHR) in the study area, and to effectively integrate the CHRs with future planning and development stages”.
“The finds of these investigations will be collated in a single Final Study Report, culminating in recommendations consistent with the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Culture’s Eight Guiding Principles in the Conservation of Built Heritage Properties.
“These will set out the necessary steps to ensure the wise use, management and protection of identified cultural heritage resources, including (but not limited to) appropriate tools for heritage conservation within the Revitalization Plan, recommendations for listings and designations and a summary of built form performance standards for development on or adjacent to significant heritage resources.”
The work on the study continues.
The following documents may be useful.
City of Toronto Heritage Inventory http://app.toronto.ca/HeritagePreservation/setup.do?action=init
City of Toronto: Ormsby/Franceschini (Mimico Estates) Designation Report http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2011/pb/bgrd/backgroundfile-36799.pdf
Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada http://www.historicplaces.ca/media/18072/81468-parks-s+g-eng-web2.pdf
Eight Guiding Principles in the Conservation of Built Heritage Properties http://www.mtc.gov.on.ca/en/heritage/InfoSheet_8%20Guiding%20Principles.pdf
Mimico Beach Estates Blog http://mimicoestates.blogspot.com/2010/04/ormscliffemyrtle-villa-estate.html
Ontario Heritage Act
Ontario Heritage Tool Kit